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Some criticisms about the game (MAJOR SPOILERS)


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WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS in this post

 

This is going to be a long post. I really shouldn’t be spending this much time on it, but I just feel like there were some things that I wanted to say about the game.

 

Felipepepe wrote up a very good post “My collected criticism on Pillars of Eternity (very minor spoilers)” on the rpgcodex website and so I am going to be repeating some of his criticisms and adding my own thoughts on it.

 

Engine & Presentation

The game is beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. The 2x speed button is a great addition and having the secondary weapons appear on the back/waist showed an attention to detail.

The map backgrounds were gorgeous.

But the overall sense I got from the backer beta feedback and even after release is that maybe more art could have been put into the game, such as including more portraits or concept art.

                                 

Choice and Consequence

In Pillars, you have a lot of personality nuances, but it doesn’t really alter the endgame that much. You end up a bit of everything, get a few different dialog choices, and that’s it. That tends to make it difficult to replay it again, because there’s nothing necessarily game-changing.

Games like Arcanum and KOTOR allowed you to go to the very extremes. Pillars doesn’t seem to allow you to do that.

Races and classes could also be used a little bit more. I played as a Pale Elf, and I didn’t really get much of a response from my race at all. Contrast that to Arcanum, where there is a strong reaction to your appearance and race.  

 

Enchantment & Itemization

I am going to quote felipepepe directly here:

 

“Oddly, the systems logic isn't bad per se; you can enchant weapons and armor with a few bonuses, while unique named items usually come with unique, more powerful enchantments. What's unexplainable is how the designers used the system.

 

For example, about 1 hour in you can recruit Éder as a companion, and he comes with a magical Saint's War Armor that once per battle will "revive" the wearer mid-combat if his endurance drops to 0. ****ing amazing, you can't add that to regular armors, so it's a very special and useful item you'll probably keep until end-game, with a few enchantments of your own on top.

 

But that's an exception. Éder's armor is one of the best & most unique items in the entire game, more often than not you'll just find uninspired magical items, very similar to the ones you can craft. There's no sense of progression here, at end-game I was finding unique items that were just like the ones I had purchased & enchanted myself, just with an extra ability like "Ignores 3 DR". Yes, it's a nice ability, but one would expect a bit more after 40 hours of play, especially in a game where you can sit down and craft a Spirit-Slaying Blade of Fire +3 at any moment.

 

The worst offender is by far the Blade of Endless Paths. You must find its fragments spread out through the huge 15-level dungeon to reforge it, just like in Baldur's Gate 2. But while in BG2 you would get legendary weapons such as the Flail of Ages, The Equalizer, Crom Faeyr, the Vorpal Blade, the Wave or the Short Bow of Gesen - all unique weapons with distinct powers - PoE gives you a boring Estoc that's 20% faster, gives +10 accuracy to one ally attacking the same target, and cannot be enchanted any further. WOW! Not only other unique weapons have these abilities, but you can buy any Estoc in a shop and enchant it into a more powerful blade if you have the proper ingredients.

 

On this subject, each item can be enchanted up to 12 "slots". Each enchantment use from 1 to 6 slots, so there's a limit to the enchantments you can add. But it makes little sense. The aforementioned ability to revive characters mid-combat occupies only one slot, while the inane "+10 accuracy for ally" takes two slots! Moreover, the whole system seems designed solely to stop players from adding the "Superb" enchantment to already powerful weapons, since it takes whopping 6 slots. And that's about all that the system does really, you'll rarely run into the cap otherwise. This could be such a rich system, if there were secret and powerful recipes to uncover so you could add exotic enchantments, or if it made you weight the "size" of each enchantment carefully, but it's horribly underused.

 

Apart from that, there's a serious lack of some types of magical items in the game. PoE overflows with magical cloaks and necklaces (both which use the same slot), but has very, very few magical belts, rings, helmets and hats. Two of my characters finished the game with regular, non-magical (but stylish) feathered hats, simply because there was nothing better for them to wear after 50 hours exploring.

 

You see, since there are no hard-counters, items can't give you "Free Action", "Protection from Charm" or anything like that. So they mostly give bonuses like +1 to Might, +3 to Deflection, etc. But these do not stack - you cannot have a +1 Might ring and a +2 Might helmet. As result, my PC finished the game wearing the prestigious CRPG ring, as all the other rings available had similar bonuses to the ones she already had and wouldn't have any effect.”

 

One thing I will say in praise of Pillars is that there does seem to be a wide variety of available weapons. There seemed to be a fair representation of clubs, swords, and wands.

The other criticism that I would add is that in order to craft superb items, you have to have a dragon component, which basically means that you have to fight the dragons. To my knowledge, the dragon components can’t be bought in stores.

Getting rid of the arrows and bullets was a good decision, because It was a pain in the neck to constantly replenish your ammunition. But the problem now is that you can’t really customize the ammunition. You can’t really choose between +1 or normal bullets or flame/lightning/ice arrows anymore.

 

Gameplay and Classes

 

The classes still need some polish. In my opinion, ciphers are overpowered and fighters don’t have a lot of active abilities. When I use Eder, I send him to engage enemies. He has a few knockdowns and a clear out. That’s it. Otherwise, he’s just hacking away at the enemies.

Regarding the wizard class, I never switched grimoires with Aloth. He used the same 4 spells that I found the most useful over and over again.

BTW, as a side note, it would be amazing if someone could mod the chants so that you could actually play your own music or audio for the chants.

 

One really minor thing is character introductions. Eder is just hanging out in front of the gallows tree. Sagani is just waiting by the crossroads. Durance is standing by the statue. Kana is just chilling in front of the stronghold. Not terribly memorable. 

 

Books aren’t really used for anything except background. You can’t increase your skills or attributes if you find them. The one use they really had was when you were praying to the gods. Other than that, they didn’t reveal any hidden recipes or secrets or schematics.

The attributes system didn’t really feel any different from the Baldur’s Gate series. One of the oft talked about points of the game was the idea of a “muscle wizard’. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to work in practice. On top of that, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference with the attributes and the standard SCDIWC. I mean, resolve is literally charisma. If you look through the dialogue options,  it’s exactly that.

 

Some of the battles in the game don’t feel satisfying. When the player fought against and defeated Firkraag in Baldur’s Gate 2, they got an Holy Avenger out of it. When I was looting the Adra Dragon’s horde, I didn’t really find any useful weapons or items. The battle also didn’t feel very satisfying because I felt like I had to cheese my way to victory. I used tons of Scrolls of Paralysis and set up Seals to defeat the dragon. There wasn’t the same sense of satisfaction.

 

There’s got a better way to sell excess items in my Stash. By the time I finished the game, I had about 3 pages full of weapons that I would never need or use. Isn’t there a way to select all or sell off a group of armor?

 

The scripted interactions didn’t feel very original. As long as you had a hammer and chisel, grappling hook, and prybar, you could pretty much successfully complete most of the scripted interactions. It didn’t feel like there was a random element outside of those tools. I think there were a very checks on Athletics, but that was it.

 

Mechanics is completely overrepresented in the game. You use it to detect traps, hidden switches, and unlock the doors. The other skills just aren’t as useful.

 

I feel like you level up way too fast in the game. The bounties, unlocking doors, defeating enemies, disarming traps, and finishing quests all add up too fast. And when the level cap gets hit, there isn’t any additional improvement that can be made on the existing characters.

 

The Stronghold isn’t very satisfying either.

·         There’s really little to no payoff, other than the Warden building, for upgrading the keep. You don’t really get a bonus for completely upgrading the keep.

·         The bandits can tear down your walls. So why build walls at all if it’s a money drain?

·         The dungeon is built in such a way that you can’t really prevent prisoners from escaping. You only have the option of releasing them. You can’t execute any prisoners.

·         The adventures are guaranteed victories. You just send off one of your hirelings, wait a few days, and get money or experience back.

·         Resting in the keep feels more inconvenient than resting in one of the local inns because you only get bonuses in one attribute, and it only raises the attribute by +1, when you can pay for +2 increases in inns for a nominal fee. You also have to trek all the way to Brighthollow and then go up the stairs to sleep. It’s an inefficient use of time.

·         You don’t really get a discount from the merchants at the keep and they don’t really offer many unique items. You can get discounts from merchants elsewhere because you can have a good reputation in places like Gilded Vale and Defiance Bay.

·         There’s not a lot of interactivity with the upgrades. You can’t go into the maze. There’s really nothing special about the buildings that you can’t get already from the merchants in other places.

 

The reputation system is OK in the game. But I wish I could have collected certain titles and reputations like you could get in Arcanum, like “The Butcher of Stillwater”, etc.  I can easily think of a few off the top of head like, “Exorcist” for clearing the lighthouse or “Master Detective” for solving the murder mysteries or “Headhunter” for completing all of the bounties. Sort of like the Steam achievements, but in game.

 

Story

 

The story is the strength of the game. The only thing that bothered was in the end, when after you had this long conversation with Iovara about the gods being constructed by the Engwithans, and finally beaten Theos to a bloody pulp, and you end up in front of the Engwithan soul container, and you end up having to choose from the choices that the different gods. You don’t have an option to really go against what the gods want.

There was this long discussion with Iovara and Theos about whether or not the gods existed and whether or not people should have a right to know, and then your final choice ends up choosing between what the gods want. It's almost an admission or concession that you, the player, don't really have much control, because while the choices that you make are yours, they're also the choices that the gods want you to make. 

Even trying to break the pantheon, by serving Woedica, is actually helping a god. 

What I am trying to say is that even with the knowledge that the gods don't really exist, you are still somehow bought by the gods's rules. And I wish that Obsidian could have put in an option where you could have made a choice like Iovara's.

 

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